C. B. Embry Jr.: The Wait for the Budget Bill Goes On in Frankfort
Some of you may be familiar with a song from the 1980’s by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in which they sing, “The waiting is the hardest part.” Well the waiting on a budget proposal for Kentucky over the next two years could be the hardest on all of us.
This past Tuesday made five weeks to the day Governor Beshear presented his budget proposal to a joint session of the House and Senate. Since that day the House Committee on Appropriations and Revenue has held one meeting dedicated to the budget bill, and that was only an overview from the state budget director on the Governor’s spending plan for Fiscal Years 2014 through 2016.
We have roughly four weeks left in the current session, and my concern along with many of my fellow legislators is with each passing day we risk running out of time to reach a consensus on the one duty Kentucky’s Constitution requires us to do as a General Assembly: pass a budget.
It is especially troubling that the original budget plan proposed nearly $2 billion in borrowing, and would cut the budget of most state agencies by five percent and our state universities would see a 2.5 percent cut in their budgets. With this idea of a borrow and spend budget over the next two years, it is all the more urgent that we take up the budget bill and get it to the Senate in plenty of time to reach an agreement. Otherwise we run the risk of leaving Frankfort without a two-year budget plan or being called back into a special session.
While we wait for the budget bill to make it to the House floor, the work goes on hearing and passing other pieces of legislation. A proposal to allow school systems more flexible for their calendar due to weather delays and closings received approval by the House Committee on Education. House Bill 383, sponsored by Rep. Addia Wuchner allows local districts to rework their calendars because of cancellations or delays while meeting the minimum 170 days required to complete a school year.
House Bill 276, which deals with elected officials serving on a separate board that levies or set tax rates was approved by the House Committee on Local Government. The bill sponsored by Rep. Ken Upchurch would ban city, county, and state officials from sitting on a separate taxing board.
And a bill that would set aside a day to recognize the service and sacrifice of our Korean War veterans was approved in committee this past week. House Bill 234 sponsored by Rep. Myron Dossett would designate July 27th as Korean War Armistice Day in Kentucky which also allows our Commonwealth to honor those who fought and died in ‘The Forgotten War.’
I welcome your comments and concerns on any issues impacting our Commonwealth during the 2014 Regular Session. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov, and I also encourage you to follow the House Republican Caucus on Facebook and Twitter.